America: land of the free and the home of the obese. This is how other countries view the United States. Granted, the United States does have an extremely high obesity rate, but obesity is a problem in other countries as well. As this condition is becoming more prevalent in children all over the world, doctors have been searching for a way to combat this condition.

Denmark has apparently cracked the code to childhood obesity, and while I congratulate the Danish for their success, I am doubtful that their methods will translate as successfully in the United States. The Danish pediatrician who is heading this project, has focused the cure for obesity on strong and supportive relationships with children’s families.

The idea behind this project is that all of the family members change their diets, therefore, there is no separation of the child from the family. This family-centered way of targeting obesity makes it much easier on the child trying to lose weight. There is no temptation to eat unhealthy foods, such as cake or other sweets, if no one else in the family is eating them.

Additionally, this method shows support towards the child. A child needs to know that they are not alone in their condition and it is not something they will be shunned for. Family involvement diminishes these thoughts and illustrates the love and encouragement the child needs.

While I applaud the Danes for their breakthrough, I doubt the fix will be so easy in the United States. Obesity in the United States often strikes in poorer families and/or broken homes, where there is not always a strong and supportive home life for children. Without this system of encouragement, it becomes harder for children to deal with obesity alone, and they lose the incentive to make healthy eating choices.

For children who suffer from obesity and are from families that are not financially well-off, healthy eating habits prove very difficult to maintain. Unless you have never done any grocery shopping, or gone to a fast food restaurant, it should not come as a shock that the cheaper items are the less healthy ones. At McDonalds, one can get a burger, fries and a drink, all for under $5. If you want to choose the healthier route at a fast food place, salads cost around $6 alone.

When money is tight, people want to stretch their dollar as far as they can and the unhealthy meals are the more economically friendly options. The same is true in grocery stores, where you can buy chips, cookies and other unhealthy foods for the same price as a few vegetables or fruits. Prices are stacked against choosing the healthier option.

So what can Americans do to lower the growing childhood rate of obesity? This problem has become the project of many, including First Lady Michelle Obama. With many famous people encouraging children to change their lifestyles and eating habits, national awareness about this topic is rising. However, raising awareness is only part of the battle.

Exercising is important in the fight against obesity as well, but that concept is still only one-half of the solution. Getting active is a message that has been sent to children for the past few years; but, while physical activity is vital to achieving a healthy weight, it will not solve the problem.

Children need to eat right in order to reach and maintain a healthy weight. However, unless the United States does something that changes the prices of healthier food options, making them more available to people with low incomes, then childhood obesity will remain a problem. We cannot replicate the Danes’ solution, but if we make the necessary changes that will work within our society, we can come up with a different solution for the same problem.

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--- Senior | Executive Editor Emeritus --- Finance/English

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